Astronomy Act
November 3, 2018 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday on r/Astronomy, somebody posted a .gif of Supernova 1987A's shock wave exploding outward : it shows 25 years of observations tracking the expanding (and heating) cloud of gas and dust blown outward from the supernova explosion of a star some 30 years ago (as viewed from Earth). In reality, this explosion, which happened very close to Earth in cosmic terms, occurred about 170,000 years ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.
Astronomer Yvette Cendes who co-wrote the paper from which the .gif came from, popped into the conversation, and did an informal AMA about the study
posted by growabrain (11 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Bummer. The first link goes to an error that reads, "if you are looking for an image, it was probably deleted"
posted by NoMich at 5:22 PM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

But I think this may be it?
posted by NoMich at 5:22 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

NoMich: I got that too, but you can still see it if you open the second link, scroll to the top of the thread, and click the title.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 5:23 PM on November 3, 2018

The GIF link will work. Just remove the trailing slash from the URL.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:29 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Fixed link, carry on!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:30 PM on November 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

So, this is the actual ejecta, as clarified by Cendes, but a different 1987A-related phenomenon has been bouncing around in animated GIF format for a while: light echoes.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:51 PM on November 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

The light echoes are amazing! Drops of light widening in circles, light years wide.
posted by Oyéah at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2018

Mind. Blown.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:09 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Cool! For comparison, here's what Supernova 1054 looks like, 964 years after it 'lit up' in our skies. In that time, the 'debris' has spread out to be about 11 light-years in diameter.

It was first seen in a telescope in 1840, and came to be called the Crab Nebula before the supernova idea was invented. The supernova it grew from was spotted (in the year 1054) according to records in China, Japan and Arabia. It's only 6400 light-years away.
posted by Twang at 10:32 PM on November 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

My mind is as large as the scale I can perceive.
posted by Goofyy at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2018

Try perceiving this Seismic Wave; Solar Quake (time-lapse video of shockwaves rippling out from a solar flare on the Sun, July 9, 1996). Still images and a description of this event are at the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) > Helioseismology > Gallery:

Scientists have shown for the first time that solar flares produce seismic waves in the Sun's interior that closely resemble those created by earthquakes on our planet. The researchers observed a flare-generated solar quake that contained about 40,000 times the energy released in the great earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906. The amount of energy released was enough to power the United States for 20 years at its current level of consumption, and was equivalent to an 11.3 magnitude earthquake, scientists calculated.

Dr. Alexander G. Kosovichev, a senior research scientist from Stanford University, and Dr. Valentina V. Zharkova from Glasgow (United Kingdom) University found the tell-tale seismic signature in data on the Sun's surface collected by the Michelson Doppler Imager onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft immediately following a moderate-sized flare on July 9, 1996. "Although the flare was a moderate one, it still released an immense amount of energy," said Dr. Craig Deforest, a researcher with the SOHO project. "The energy released is equal to completely covering the Earth's continents with a yard of dynamite and detonating it all at once."

SOHO is a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA. The finding is reported in the May 28 issue of the journal Nature, and is the subject of a press conference at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Boston, Mass., May 27. The solar quake that the science team recorded looks much like ripples spreading from a rock dropped into a pool of water. But over the course of an hour, the solar waves traveled for a distance equal to 10 Earth diameters before fading into the fiery background of the Sun's photosphere. Unlike water ripples that travel outward at a constant velocity, the solar waves accelerated from an initial speed of 22,000 miles per hour to a maximum of 250,000 miles per hour before disappearing.
Unfortunately, the large banana intended for scale was instantly atomized by the flare.
posted by cenoxo at 10:48 PM on November 7, 2018

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